I was delighted to hear David Willetts, Minister of Universities and Science, encourage older learners to enrol on university courses. His comments about studying for the over 60s focused on the benefits of retraining and reskilling, and this emphasis is appropriate. Improving employability and productivity for this age group is essential, especially as the retirement age is due to rise to 68. But words are not enough. Older learners need more support to encourage them to enrol on university courses, and society’s prejudices against older learners need to be tackled too.

I have congratulated many older students on their academic achievements at graduation ceremonies over the years. The hard work they have shown to complete their courses and their courage to learn when many assume studying is only for younger people are an inspiration to us all. Their successes prove that the young do not have a monopoly on energy, intelligence and aspiration.

Aged 74, he enrolled onto Birkbeck’s BA History degree, and he graduated four years later in

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Studying for the over 60s is beneficial for many reasons, not only for improving skills needed in the modern workplace. Learning in your older years keeps your brain active, and discussing ideas and socialising is an important part of the university experience. Studying is an effective way for the over 60s to tackle the spectre of isolation, loneliness and depression, which can accompany old age. Often the older the student, the more they appreciate the opportunity to study. Read more